Football fans are no strangers to hot takes and hissy fits, and - as much as we’d like to think otherwise - Liverpool fans are no different. Divock Origi experienced this fickleness first hand over the course of the 14/15 season, from several sides. First, the adoration of fans from his former club Lille when he burst onto the scene during the 2014 World Cup, which transformed into derision in the immediate wake of the tournament, when it was announced that he had signed for Liverpool. Over the course of a season that saw him finish as the highest-scoring teenager in the league, French fans and media turned on the 19-year old, and he was — quite preposterously — included in L’Equipe’s Worst XI of the season.
The Reds fans’ bullishness over his talent, fueled by the emerging narrative from France that he was — let’s see if you can guess the adjectives — overrated, arrogant and lazy, changed into exasperation that this Liverpool team couldn’t just go out there and buy ready-made superstars to drag them out of their mediocrity. Origi’s youth became an albatross rather than an indication of potential, and his confidence was now something to be derided rather than applauded.
Over the course of Liverpool’s 15/16 season, and especially after the arrival of Jürgen Klopp, Origi’s standing among the Anfield faithful grew. As the team’s fortunes began to turn, so did public opinion, the Belgian’s swagger again appreciated, helped along by some impressive and important goals.
What has Divock done to facilitate this development? It’s all about that work.
"Working, working, working. That makes you calm and confident," said the striker fresh off two goals in two games. “When you know that you have worked hard and gave it your all there is nothing more that you can do. When you relax a little then you have regrets.
“From the moment I came here I’ve never had regrets and that is one thing that makes me calm," he continued. “I’ve a very big passion for football and I never give up."
That work rate is one of the reasons Liverpool fans — again displaying a propensity for vacillation — have at times called for the number 27 to start ahead of proven goal machine Daniel Sturridge, and the Reds manager hasn’t been dismissive of the idea. While Origi, with his chasing and harrying of opposition ball carriers, might be a more natural fit for the way Klopp wants his teams to play, his production isn’t — at least quite yet — at the level of his strike partner. 14 goals in a little over 2000 minutes — or a goal every 150 minutes or so — is excellent for a 21-year old striker, though, and his 17.4% conversion rate is close to elite. His 2.1 dribbles per 90 is third among strikers in the league, bested only by Kun Agüero and Alexis Sanchez.
Divock Origi’s combination of size, speed, technical ability, and seemingly glove-like fit for his manager’s preferred system, means that if his development continues, he might just be a long-term solution to the club’s striker position. For now, he duels with Sturridge for backup minutes to perpetual motion device Roberto Firmino, but despite his ambitions, this does not bother the young Belgian.
“You come here and you want to play every game,” Origi added. “You want to enjoy yourself. Your life is football. Your first story was with a ball.
“The only thing you think about is playing but you have to respect the choices of the coach.
“I always put the team first and for me it was important to use every situation to learn and make steps. When the team needs you, when the manager needs you, you are there.
“Eventually that is how we help each other and that is how you achieve great things."
In Divock we trust.